In 1946, The Courier ran a series of articles searching for relatives of the 21 young men from the district who had paid the supreme sacrifice in World War II in order to obtain permission to include their names on Cobram’s first war memorial.
Today we need your assistance to again locate relatives of these men so they can be honoured at a ceremony. The Cobram-Barooga RSL will conduct a short service on Saturday, March 24 at 10.45am to commemorate the rededication of the World War II Hay Ave Memorial plaques.
The men honoured on the plaques are:
ALLEN, Herbert William (Bert)
GRINTER, Clarence Alexander (Clarrie)
BELL, Alfred William Paul
JORDAN, Robert Ian
CAMERON, John Andrew Edward (Jock)
LINEHAN, Desmond William (Des)
CARR, Austin (Aussie/Ossie)
MALONEY, Francis Thomas (Frank)
CHRISTIE, John Lawton (Jock)
ROSE, Kenneth Leslie (Ken)
COCK, Norman Isaac
COLLENS, William Wallace (Bill)
SHEPARD, John Hale (Jack)
COWCHER, Bernard Emmet (Barney)
SIMPSON, Richard William (Dick)
GILSENAN, Dudley John
WATT, Allan Gerrard
GOODMAN, George John Parker
YOUNG, Eric Charles
In 1949, the Hay Ave Memorial was created to honour these 21 young and courageous men. Hay Ave was planted with 21 trees, each marked with a plaque bearing the name of a deceased serviceman.
Surprisingly for a town of its size, it was Cobram’s first official war memorial as no World War I memorial existed.
The avenue was funded and sponsored by Harold D. Hay of Boomanoomana, a generous gesture worth more than £600, which at the time amounted to the cost of a new motor vehicle.
Descendants of Mr Hay will be at the service.
In the 1950s and ’60s the memorial trees were a place for bereaved Cobram families to visit. The avenue was a site where families could lay a wreath on Anzac Day and remember their loved ones.
Some of the men had no known grave, but most were buried in remote places overseas in beautiful Commonwealth War Cemeteries, too far away for most family members to be able to afford to visit. They are buried in almost every corner of the world including Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Over time, the plaques and trees fell into disrepair. Some trees had to be removed and several died. Many of the plaques were damaged and in need of restoration.
About 10 years ago the Cobram-Barooga RSL resolved to restore the plaques and it was decided to place them on a memorial wall. They will remain in Hay Ave, next to the war memorial.
To fund the cost of the restoration, grants were successfully obtained from the Department of Premier and Cabinet and the Moira Shire Council. The Barooga Sports Club also generously donated funding, as did the Cobram-Barooga RSL.
Every effort has been made to contact relatives of the 21 men whose names appear on the memorial.
Some were married, most were single, and they came from all walks of life before enlisting for service in the Australian Army, Air Force and Navy.
The RSL is yet to contact relatives of Jock Cameron, Aussie Carr, Jock Christie, Norman Cock, Harold Gould, Ian Jordan, Des Linehan, Frank Maloney, Dick Simpson and Allan Watt.
●If you have any information about the families of these men, phone the secretary of the RSL on 0407 040 208 or email [email protected]
All interested members of the community are invited to attend the service on March 24 to celebrate the restoration of the plaques and to honour the Cobram district men who lost their lives.